Thursday, September 27, 2007

Why Burma is important for Venezuela's future

I have been watching in awe as the Monks in Burma have decided to take to the streets to protest the latest abuses of the military junta that has held the country into its fetid grip for decades. And I am worried sick about what will be fate of Aung San Suu Kyi as she has been taken again into custody.

It also worries me that Chavez is slowly setting up a system that one day will be like the Burmese system, a large mass of individuals without any prospect of self empowerment, a small tight cast of people controlling all the powers that matter.

And I am also worried sick that chavez continues to surrender parcels of Venezuela to China and Russia as his best guarantees that the Western Democratic world will look away as long as he keeps sending oil to their greedy motorists. The editorial of Washington Post says it all, from how Burma willingly became a Chinese Economical colony to how Putin's Russia frowns on any intervention to help the democratic opposition, least some day the next Chechnya he will start is criticized from the West.

And this is the brave new world that Chavez wants to take us in, a set of authoritarian regimes based on a military/political elite where any opposition will be shot at. Remember that in February 2004 Chavez army shoot at the people and killed many protesters. Since then the Misiones hand outs have allowed him to keep a good control of the country but the waste of his regime and the slow decrease of oil production will one day make Misiones insufficient. When that day comes Chavez will count on friendly foreign ministers to say as the Russian minister said yesterday that all in Burma will return to normal soon, as chilling a warning as one can hear (my emphasis in the editorial text below).

Save Burma
Will China and Russia give a green light to a slaughter of the monks?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

BURMA' S BRAVE monks and the thousands of people who support them have been chanting a simple demand to the country's military rulers: dialogue. Instead, the peaceful protesters in Rangoon were attacked yesterday with tear gas, water cannons and gunfire. By the regime's own account, at least one person was killed when troops fired on a crowd near the venerated Sule Pagoda; opposition accounts said as many as eight people died and hundreds of monks were beaten before being hauled onto trucks and driven away. The corrupt and paranoid generals in the ruling junta have clearly decided to face a popular uprising with the same methods used to put down a similar revolt in 1988. That means the world can expect mass bloodshed in Burma in the coming days -- unless something is done to stop it.

The United States and the European Union acted with admirable cohesion and aggressiveness yesterday, calling for a meeting of the U.N. Security Council and asking it to consider sanctions. The Western governments issued a blunt joint statement that condemned the violence and told the Burmese generals they would be held individually accountable for their actions. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was eloquent: "The whole world is now watching Burma, and its illegitimate and repressive regime should know that the whole world is going to hold it to account," he said. "The age of impunity in neglecting and overriding human rights is over."

The problem is that the "whole world" is not yet prepared to prevent a massacre of monks. Several countries that like to think of themselves as strategic partners of the West -- in particular, Russia and China -- are blocking concerted international action against the regime. China, which has taken advantage of Burma's pariah status to turn it into a virtual economic colony, came out against U.N. sanctions yesterday. Russia's foreign ministry issued a statement rejecting "interference in the domestic affairs" of Burma and predicting that "the situation will be back to normal soon" -- chilling words considering what the troops in Rangoon would have to do to return the situation to "normal."

Yesterday, Russia and China prevented the Security Council even from condemning the violence against protesters. In effect, they are giving the regime a green light for brutal repression. We can hope that the generals will be deterred by the warnings about the war crimes trials that could await them, or that their officers and conscripts will refuse to carry out their orders. If the repression proceeds, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Hu Jintao will have Burma's blood on their hands.

-The end-

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